Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) on the chase again in Season 7, Episode 8, but this time he seems different. So is Diana (Elizabeth Reaser). Don’s more sensitive than he’s been with any woman in the past. But, Diana: she’s like the old Don running from his past, the one we’ve known for 7 Seasons. Then again, she’s also more real, honest and vulnerable than any woman Don’s been with. These are the two sides of Don. Which will win out? What will tip the scale in one direction or the other?
Can Don Change in Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8?
If we look at Diana, we see Don. His losses. The way he’s run away with lies, sex, and booze. He’s played the part of a man who needs nothing from anyone. All a fiction he’s had to create. Diana tries, less effectively, to do the same. The question isn’t whether Diana is a good choice for Don’s next relationship. The better question is: what purpose might she serve for what Don needs to face to turn his life around?
As I said in my post last week, “Don Draper’s Dream”, Don’s been looking everywhere, and in every woman, for the mother he lost at birth. Yet, there’s another important thing he’s been looking for: Himself. The self he lost when he lost his mother and the chance for love a baby needs.
What Does It Take To Grieve & Heal?
A part of the grieving Don needs to do is for that hidden and rejected self he’s believed for far too long isn’t lovable. Now, in Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8, Don has a chance to reclaim what Diana reflects back to him: that lonely, guilty, and vulnerable side of himself. Can he finally be real and give up his escapes and self-punishment? Megan doesn’t believe he can. Do we, as viewers?
I think he has a chance. If he can face his regrets and find the young self he left behind. Here’s what he’ll need to do for his open – and real – self to win out:
- Be honest with himself about his feelings
- Face his part in why his relationships haven’t worked
- Not take Diana’s (or his stepmother’s) rejection personally
- See Diana as a reflection of a part of him that’s been closed off
- Stop feeling he deserves to be punished – as he sees Diana doing
- Feel his grief and mourn his losses
Don’s house may be empty in Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8. But, if he sees this as his punishment and evidence of a lonely fate, his battle is lost. If instead, he takes it as a sign of a chance at a fresh start, there’s hope. Let’s say he can do that and doesn’t run away again. Maybe his life can finally get off the ground.